Sky Sports will dedicate an entire channel to the 145th Open Championship in July as part of its plans in covering golf’s most prestigious Major tournament for the first time.
Starting with the opening tee shot of the entire championship, at 6.35am on Thursday, July 14, the broadcaster’s coverage plans include exclusive live round-the-clock coverage of all four days’ play, as well as the practice rounds.
There will be extended evening highlights of each day’s play, plus a host of documentaries and shows exploring the unique allure of The Open in the week building up to the tournament.
All of Sky’s Open coverage will air on Sky Sports 1 from July 11-17, with the channel being re-branded as Sky Sports The Open for the duration of event.
On the same day that its dedicated Open channel launches, Sky Sports’ channel numbers will change, with Sky Sports News HQ moving on the Sky electronic programme guide (EPG) to 406, with Sky Sports 1 returning to its former home on 401.
David Livingstone will front Sky’s live coverage throughout the week, with commentary and analysis from Sky Sports regulars including Ewen Murray, Paul McGinley, Butch Harmon and Colin Montgomerie.
As parts of its Open Championship debut, Sky Sports’ award-winning golf production team will utilise some of the latest broadcast technology to enhance its coverage of the tournament, including virtual analysis of the course and selected player swings.
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Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis said: “The Open is the pre-eminent golf Major and Sky Sports will offer the Championship the coverage it deserves.
“With a dedicated channel, we will offer viewers the complete story live from Royal Troon, from the opening tee shot to the final putt. We’re excited and honoured to be covering the event and can’t wait for it to begin.”
Sky’s coverage of The Open will be the highlight of a bumper summer of sport on the pay-TV broadcaster, which includes live England Test cricket, Formula 1, Home Nations’ rugby union tours of the Southern Hemisphere, and the start of the Premier League season.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said: “The Open is a true celebration of world-class sport.
“We are delighted with the comprehensive and innovative coverage that Sky Sports will deliver from the build-up to the Championship at Royal Troon through to the crowning of the Champion Golfer of the Year.
“The Open holds a special place in the hearts of sports fans who appreciate the unrelenting challenge that is presented to the world’s best players, and we know that Sky Sports will broadcast the Championship with great insight and expertise.”
Sky Sports take over the rights to screen The Open Championship from the BBC a year earlier than planned, after the corporation decided to end its contract for live coverage following the 2015 tournament at St Andrews due to cost cutting, ending its 60-years of live broadcasting.
The BBC will continue to cover the tournament via prime-time TV highlights of every round on BBC Two, as well as provide its usual live radio and online coverage.
The acquisition of the Open completes Sky Sports’ virtual monopoly of live golf coverage, with the broadcaster now holding the rights to all four of the sport’s Majors, as well as the Ryder Cup.